Watching "Invincible" has convinced me of one thing: that director Ericson Core, women and Mark Wahlberg himself like it when Mark Wahlberg walks away from the camera in tight pants.
Never has one man walked off to the sideline/down a Philly street/off into the distance so many times with the focus so clearly on his posterior. And a very nice rear end it is — but it shouldn't be the focus of a football movie.
A romance film? Fine. A comedy? OK. Professional wrestling? Definitely. But not football. Football is about walking towards the camera in pads and taking that opponent down with a slam that can be felt through the film. Football is about hurt, triumph, and underdogs defying the odds in inspirational victories.
All those things are what the true tale of Vince Papale, (Wahlberg) are about, but the movie turns it into some sort of Disney love story mixed together with the triumph of football. The male bonding is trite and forced, and while Wahlberg works as Papale out of the pads he just looks small and weak inside them — something that doesn't change, as it should, as he works his way to becoming a professional football player.
The entire film comes off softer than it should be. The football hits feel weak once the film finally gets to the games. The emotional stuff packs no punch. It's as if Core simultaneously forgot what football looks and feels like, and that the title of the film was "Invincible." It's going for "Rudy"-like emotions so hard that it misses out on the "Any Given Sunday" impact of hard-edged football.
While Papale's relationships with his friends and lover fall flat, the relationship between him and his seniors, legendary coach Dick Vermeil (Greg Kinnear) and Papale's father Frank (Kevin Conway), are a saving grace. Papale senior and his son have that sort of relationship that just works for guys, where not much is said but everything is. While Kinnear turns in a believable interpretation of Vermeil, it's the interactions between he and Wahlberg that are best. They are too few and far between.
Beyond the hollow emotions and a co-starring role for Wahlberg's behind, the real problem with the film is that it centered on the Philadelphia Eagles — a team that has never won a Super Bowl, thus robbing the end of any fulfilling victory. There's no absolution for a team whose fans are the worst in the NFL (opposing teams' families have had to have security around them for safety purposes at games).
It's the Eagles, and when you're living in Redskins Nation, that should be problem enough.